Monday, May 30, 2011

CJ Princess Seam Dress

The minute I started to handle this fabric, as in lay on the cutting table waiting to be cut out, I knew that it was too thin for me. If I'm using a knit, it has to be a little beefier because otherwise it shows every lump and bump of my bodacious body.  So that was my first challenge.

The second one was that I thought I would make the pattern as is from the pattern envelope.  This was my second challenge because "as is" even though I measured to insure there was enough ease for my body...still needed some additional ease added to the pattern to have the fit I like.

So let's go to the pictures:

The dress front unfinished:

The dress back unfinished:

Let's start with what I liked about this pattern:

1.  You serge it together instead of sewing it on your sewing machine.  Okay this is super quick, easy and fun!

2.  I love the offset neckline.  This is an unusual detail that would be quite interesting in a dress.

3.  In another fabric, the ease and flow of the dress would make it a great dress to wear.

4.  The pattern instructions are great...easy to follow and logical.

5.  The pattern is well drafted and well notated.  All notches match, there are lines for the centerfront, the neckline, the underarm, etc.  It is just a very easy roadmap to use to create the dress.

~I would never line the dress with the same fabric.  I'm in the midst of personal summers and this much knit would cause heat exhaustion.  I would faint in the subway.  I was going to use a tricot knit to line this.

~I'm not sure why you need to interface the neckline except to stabilize where you'd clip to insure the facing flipped in correctly.  It seems to me that you could accomplish the exact same thing (stabilizing the clipped area) with a piece of stay tape.

~This is too short on me.  I cut away at the hemline suggested, even after holding the pattern up to me and double checking in the mirror, the fabric manuevers a little differently than paper does.  Also the pattern instructions suggest a serged hemline...which is on the dress I made.  But personally, I would rather have a hem with a twin needle finish.

In conclusion: 

While I don't particularly like this dress on me from this fabric...I do love the pattern.  This is a look that I don't presently have in my wardrobe and the princess seams and flared hem would be very attractive on me in a different fabric.

I will make this again in a beefier knit fabric from my collection with a couple of minor alterations because the "likes" of the pattern greatly outweigh the "dislikes"...which mostly have to do with the weight of the rayon/lycra fabric used.

One more thing...I'm sure that others will have a different experience with the fabric and pattern than I did.  Again, this is just my opinion and my experience.  If you have a better experience, that is a good Martha would say.

Look for another version of this dress here soon...cause again I really like the style of the dress, the ease of construction and the pattern details. always, more later!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

CJ Dress - Fabric & Pattern Instructions

As promised here are the results of the pretreating tests.  I cut three 3" squares like Christine suggests.  Then I washed and dried one swatch with another piece of fabric that I was pretreating.  I left one swatch alone and the final swatch I steamed the heck out of by hovering my iron over it and pushing the steam button.

So here are the results:

...the washed piece...

...the steamed piece...

Since there was no change to the fabric, I'm just going to cut the dress out from the fabric as it is and proceed from there.

The other thing I wanted to share with you is the patten instructions.  You know how we all complain about pattern instructions and how they aren't complete...I just don't think I'm going to find that with Christine's pattern.  Here's what comes in the pattern envelope:

And look at how clear the pictures are and how the instructions are written:

There's no way you are getting lost or twisted here!  I'm working on the dress so I will have another update shortly...

Also, if you haven't used the coupon code at Christine's site, it is good until the dress is finished and I can pretty much guarantee that will be if you were thinking about getting a pattern or two, I would mosey on over now and make it happen! always, more later!

Friday, May 27, 2011

The Rachel Skirt

That's what I'm calling Vogue 1247.

I love the version that Adonishing Dressing for Dinner made and it really inspired me to make one of my own.

Here I am wearing my version at work:

Some stats:

Navy tropical wool from Fabric Mart

Navy ambiance lining
9" invisible zipper
2 buttons
rayon hem tape

We all know that this skirt only goes up to a size 18 and it's quite short...but I loved the pocket detail!  Especially after Adonishing lengthened turned my world upside down and I of this skirt.

Starting with my TNT skirt I cut new front pieces by laying the pattern's front piece on the fold and widening it.  The same was done for the back pieces.  After the pieces were cut out, I used the pattern instructions to understand how to sew the front pocket pieces but after that it was a simple pencil skirt construction.

I did change up the pattern by adding a lining.  I also remained true to the skirt's original design because I didn't add a back vent or side slits.  I was a little concerned that I might have problems getting on and off the bus but there is enough ease at the hemline that it ended up not being an issue at all.

This should have been a quick sew but I puttered around making it...however, I will make another one.  Here is a pic of the pockets prior to the waistband being added:

I can see those pockets with a buttonhole/button to bring some definition to them...because they fade into the skirt until you put your hands in the pockets.  I did that a couple of times at work and then expressions changed!  *LOL*  The pockets are really kewl and deep enough to hold things if you want.  I was just thrilled to be able to jam my hands into them at various times during the day!  So you will probably see a couple more versions of this skirt this summer, as well as, this fall.  This is a wardrobe builder!!!

If you have a TNT pencil skirt pattern and really like the pocket detail, pick the pattern up and use both together, you will be thrilled that you too can end up with a very wearable skirt with great designer details!

...more later!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

I love a pretty package...

During my hiatus, I read about the boatload of Liberty of London prints that had acquired.  Now they've got this in the tana lawn, poplin and in knit fabrications for a reasonable price...well at least I thought it was reasonable...especially since I bought 2.5 yards last year from another online retailer for about $11 more a yard and paid shipping & handling to get them to me. was offering these goodies at the lesser price, with free shipping and I found a 10% off coupon to help lessen the sting.  So I bought 4.5 yards to make some summer dresses.

2.5 yards of this one                                 and 2 yards of this one:

I know you are wondering about the pretty package title right?  Well last summer I made my TNT pattern using the Liberty of London fabric I purchased from another online retailer and it's one of my favorite dresses:

However, I lined that dress in a rayon ambiance lining and it can stick to my body when I'm down in the subway during the hottest months of the summer.  But this is one of my best professional looks for summer.  I never fail to get compliments on it and since the entire dress barely weighs 2 lbs soaking wet, it is one of my most comfortable summer dresses.

So I wanted to use a different type of lining for these two versions.  I've used cotton batiste in garments before and sometimes it doesn't flow well beneath a dress...but I do need an absorbent cotton batiste.  Then I remembered Farmhouse Fabrics...the heirloom sewist's choice for fine cottons and voiles.  When I went to their site, not only did I find some amazing cotton batistes but I also found a selection of silk batiste.  Be still my heart!!!!

I ordered 4 yards of white and 4 yards of black (there might yet be more Liberty of London prints in my future so I gotta be prepared!) and this is what arrived today:

Seriously, isn't this the most precious packaging EVAH!  So I  will be lining my next Liberty of London dresses with this awesome silk batiste...I know...I know...I've spent a pretty penny to make two dresses but as the L'Oreal commercial says..."I'm worth it!"  *LOL*

...more later!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

To Pretreat or not to Pretreat

Friday begins a three-day weekend and I've decided that during this weekend, I will make my version of the Christine Jonson Princess Dress.  I've opened the pattern envelope and read the instructions thoroughly (more on that later!)  I've touched my fabric longingly more than once...and now I'm ready to begin.

So a few days ago, I sent this message to Christine regarding pretreating the fabric:

"Hi Christine ~ I had a quick question. Do I prewash the fabric or not? I know there was a lot of discussion on whether to or not in the old Sewing World days but I didn't know if the answer had changed or not."

And here is her response:

"It is your decision as to whether or not you pre-wash the fabric. My advise is to always cut 3- 3"squares of fabric and do this test: leave one alone, press one with a hot iron and steam and "try" to shrink it, then wash and dry the other one either in the dryer or air dry flat (however you will want to care for finished garment). Then compare them to the one you did nothing to and see what happened. 

Check and compare both the lengthwise and crosswise grains to each other, usually there will be more shrinkage in the lengthwise grain. This will help you determine how to deal with the fabric and pattern sizing. 

If the swatch shrinks alot you will know to add to the length/width etc. to your pattern if you do not pre-wash the fabric. 

If nothing changes then it is a safe bet that the finished garment will not change either and you will not need to pre-wash. 

Sometimes a fabric will just "feel or look better" after washing it or maybe the edges will roll and it will be more difficult to handle. Testing the fabric ahead of time is really the only way to know how to proceed. 

The shrink/press information from the "old days" only applied to the cotton/LYCRA fabric that I offered exclusively with the original patterns. I added a bit of extra length and width to the original 6 patterns to allow for pressing shrinkage of that fabric, but now because there are so many fabulous knits with a wide variety of fiber content available I do not do that. 

I recommend doing the swatch test along with using the finished garment measurement chart and the Perfect Sizing Worksheet to guide in choosing size. 

Check out this link and read the To Wash or Not To Wash article 

I hope this helps. And, fabric content means nothing when it comes to pre washing or not. Just because one rayon/LYCRA jersey washed up beautifully with no shrinkage or ill effect does not mean the next one will not shrink 2" all the way around! Each fabric must be considered as an individual. 

So, I recommend doing this test with both of the fabrics you will be using and see what happens!"

As I told Christine in a subsequent email, that she states it best and there is no need to improve upon what she's written.  So I will be performing my swatch test tomorrow evening and I will post the results then.  I'm on my way to having a great dress, dontcha think!


On another note, thank you to everyone who left a message, sent me an email or wrote something on their blog (Debbie) about the lack of posts here for the last two weeks.  In a nutshell, I just needed a blogging break.  I've been blogging for the last 5 1/2 years pretty steadily and when I find I need to delete a post from my blog, I would say it's time to step back and take a deep breathe.  

There are some pretty serious things happening in the world right now and especially here at home in blogging nonsense is just background noise.  I hope you will continue to pray with me for the folks in Alabama, Joplin, MO, and Texas...but most especially for the people in Japan.  I know they've fallen off the newscycle here in America but I'm sure living through the rebuilding of their country is still a challenge every day!

I've been sewing while I was not only do I have the Christine Jonson dress' adventure to share with you but a few other goodies as well. always, more later!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

It's Here!

That's right - fabric and pattern have arrived safely at Casa de Sewing Fanatic!  And I'm thrilled...can't wait to get started on this project!

But I have even better news...seriously I do!  It's something special just for you dear readers...Christine has graciously offered anyone who purchases a pattern from her during my construction of this outfit a 20% off discount.  Yes, that's right!  Any pattern you order from Christine Jonson's site will be 20% off by using the coupon code "SewingFanatic" on the basket page or at the checkout/payment screen.

Now don't drag your feet because I'm chomping at the bit to make this dress and shrug...however, I will give you a little time to make your purchase because I'm not going to start working on this dress until next weekend (May 20-22).  I can't guarantee how long it will take me to finish so if there was a pattern you wanted from Christine's site, I would run right over and use the coupon, NOW! always, more later!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A Knit Dress Palooza!

Yes, I made another knit dress!  I know I can't believe it either because that makes 4 knit dresses in a row.  But when I got home from work on Friday night this knit was staring at me...daring me to take it out and use it.  Now you know I couldn't resist a fabric I took the challenge.

And this is what the fabric became:

Some stats:

TNT dress pattern

2 yards of a border print knit from Elliot Berman

1/2 yard stay tape
9" black invisible zipper
scraps of black fusible knit interfacing

~I changed the neckline on my TNT dress so that it's a lower u-neckline than my normal dress.

~I added 3/4 length sleeves.

~There is a 9" invisible zipper in the back. Only 9" because I was concerned that I wouldn't be able to get the dress over my head without it.  The center back seams were stabilized by adding fusible interfacing strips to them, making the zipper insertion smooth as buttah.

~The neckline was serge finished, pressed under 1/2" and stitched flat.

~Since the dress was cut on the selvedge, I didn't hem it.  Just left it the length it was.  However, the sleeves got a 1/2" hemline that was stitched down.

This dress was a very easy sew.  I deliberately chose my TNT dress pattern to showcase the fabric's print.  It's just a funky little dress to wear to work on casual fridays. always, more later!

Sunday, May 08, 2011

3x the charm!

I just could not leave well enough alone.  After seeing Erica's version, I longed for just one more of my own.  Just one more Vogue 1250.  I know...I know...cause the only change I can possibly make to this dress now is the that's what I did.


With a RTW cardigan from my closet

This fabric was purchased from Emmaonesock about five years ago.  She sold alot of this polyester knit in various colors and prints.  This is one of the few pieces I had left in the fabric closet because the fabric started to gain a reputation for being a little too warm for the wearer.  But it works great for this pattern and I think this is my best rendition so far.  I really like the way this latest dress hangs and wore it this morning to church services.

I did do a couple of things differently with this one.  Both the top piece and the back piece have a center back seam.  This was necessary because of the amount of fabric I had to work with.  The hem is pressed up with stitch witchery and then stitched down with a twin needle.  Finally, the armhole opening is a little lower which stops some of the pulling at the bustline that I was experiencing with the other two versions.

When I finished the second version, I knew there would be a third because I really wanted one out of a floral knit.  I thought I would have to purchase the fabric but I took a gander at the fabric closet and was very pleased to find this one. 

One more shot...

So you're wondering where's the B5600 dress right?  Well the buttonholes are made and it's just waiting for me to sew the buttons on.  I will do that this evening. 

Speaking of Mother's Day, I'd like to wish all mothers and mothers-to-be a very Happy Mother's Day!  May your day be filled with family, joy and love!

...more later!

Saturday, May 07, 2011

20 Minutes with Christine Jonson

The most amazing thing happened to me yesterday afternoon and it started with an email.  Seriously a simple email with a version of a title that I've probably read at least a dozen times...but this time...this time it was special!

Let's start at the beginning so you will understand why I was so excited when I received the email.  About a dozen years ago I began my foray into the internet sewing community.  I started with the mailing lists on Quiltropolis and moved onto the sewing forum, Sewing World (the precursor to Stitchers Guild).  It was there that my eyes were really opened to what kind of sewist I could become because the forum consisted of not only sewists but patternmakers, designers and entrepreneurs...people actively engaged in making their living from their sewing talents.

One of the participants on this board was Christine Jonson.  She sold this awesome cotton/lycra knit fabric and these really kewl patterns.  She had a devoted band of followers and I loved seeing the pictures of the outfits they constructed and reading about their sewing journeys.  However, my interest was really piqued when Kathryn (I Made This!) made a couple of Christine's Swing Jackets.  I think Kathryn has made three in total but it was this one, that caused me to purchase the pattern.

At the time, I  purchased not only the Swing Jacket

but the Swing Shirt too...

Both of these patterns worked for the business casual atmosphere of the job I had at that time.  But as you all are aware, I moved on to a more conservative workplace and sadly neither of these patterns were made.

So now that you have the backstory, here is the part that made my day!  I received an email from Christine where she asked me if I would be interested in reviewing a pattern and her fabric on my blog.  She said a couple of nice things about the blog and that she has read it off and on for the last year.  Now that sentence alone made my heart beat a little faster...*LOL*  She left her email address and her phone number, so I called her.  Seriously, picked up the phone from work and called expecting to leave a message and have her call me back.

But I had forgotten that small business owners are generally in their place of business and ready and willing to speak with their customers!  Silly me!  Christine comes to the phone and spends 20 minutes with me discussing the type of pattern that would work for my needs.  Never once did she try to steer me to one of her popular or new patterns...the emphasis was on what would work for me.  Then we discussed fabric.  OMG!  I was smiling so wide that several of my co-workers later asked me who I was talking to...but seriously people talking to Christine Jonson about what fabric works best with what pattern...heaven!  *LOL*

So decisions were made, a pattern chosen, fabric picked and I'm sure that it's all winging its way to me as you read this.  Here's what I want you to know...not only was Christine gracious and helpful to me, but she will be the same way with you!  If you visit her site, Christine Jonson Patterns, and have a question regarding the fabric or her patterns, she is available to you via email and phone, too.

Don't forget that Christine's patterns are featured in this month's (June/July 2011) Threads.  The article is called, "Sew a Mix & Match Summer Wardrobe" and features several of Christine's patterns and fabrics.  It is a step by step tutorial on how to get 10 great and easy summer garments.  Christine also has a Facebook page and a twitter account, so you can follow her at both.  If you just want to see pictures of her garments made up, Christine has a Flickr account showing her patterns made up and modeled.

Finally, yes I'm promoting her products!  Christine is a designer that I've admired for years who produces a quality product.  I'm glad that she reached out to me to try one of her patterns, because I hadn't really looked at her site, prior to the Threads article, in some time.  There are a few additional patterns I'd like to try, as well as, several pieces of her fabrics that would work well in my corporate wardrobe.  But here's the kicker, most of you don't live in my work-world and the selection is even greater and more far reaching for you. 

If you are a follower of Christine Jonson, and have used her fabrics and patterns, would you kindly leave a comment and tell us why you like her products?  Would you speak to the quality of the fabric?  How the patterns work for you?  And her customer service?  The rest of us would so appreciate any info you can pass along!  Thanks!

I will have several follow-up posts as I go through the construction process for the dress.  I can guarantee you that my opinions will be truthful and not swayed at all by this stay tuned as the journey continues... always, more later!

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Do I save money sewing?

Ann of Gorgeous Things put that simple sentence in her last post and of all the information there, that's what I latched onto! *smile*  The reason that I latched onto it was that for years I did sew to save money.

When my children were smaller and there were so many expenses with so little money...I mean my ex-husband and I both worked but we had jobs.  You know the kind that pay a decent salary but when you add up all the things you need, plus a few extras, you are living within your means without ALOT of fancy extras...there were no playstations at my house...not even a computer until they were in high school.

So to stretch every dime, I sewed not only for the girls but for myself.  A yard of fabric cut just the right way could yield a shorts set for each of the girls. Sunday church dresses definitely came from my sewing machine.  I really loved those $80-100 little girl dresses with the lovely ribbons and "silk" overlays...I could make those for about $15-20 a dress.  Since we spent alot of time in church, I needed a lot of Sunday clothes...not to mention every day school clothes.  Okay I'm sure you are getting my point.

I also didn't have a large stash of fabric.  There were a couple of bins but not the proliferation that lives with me now...and a pattern...a pattern was used until I couldn't use it anymore because I didn't purchase as many as I do now.  All of this to say that one point I did sew to save money. 

I'm in a different stage of life now.  My kids are grown.  I'm no longer married and I have a much more demanding, well-paying job.  So my priorities have changed.  I sew for pleasure now.  I sew to have the wardrobe I want.  I sew because I can...but sewing to save that's no longer apart of my lexicon.

So what about you?  Do you sew to save money?  Or do you just sew for the pleasure of it?

Let me know, cause this is the question of the day!

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

So far outside my comfort zone...

The Butterick 5600 dress is almost done...

Why is it almost done and not completely finished?  Two words...hand stitching.  Seriously, there is so much hand stitching needed for this dress that I'm still stitching tonight...and I haven't made buttonholes or attached buttons yet.

A sneak peek...

Now the reason for the title of this post...I tried the dress on with the pins still in the front clasping it together and I'm a little shaky shaky.  Not because it doesn't fit...and not because the border print doesn't work...but because yet again I am making a dress that I wouldn't normally make or wear.  It is close fitting.  It does have a belt/tie thingy.  It does emphasize my booty.  And if you haven't noticed by now, I like a sleeker, more straight line fit.

A fit that I learned to appreciate from Calvin Klein's '70s/early '80s garments.  Those garments were simple, straight and gave the wearer a look of leanness...well at least that's how I remember it.  It's a classic look that I strive to bring to my garments now by refreshing it with new colors, prints, details and lengths.  By choosing to make some of the more popular looks in the pattern catalogues...I am really straying far from my comfort zone.

One more thing...please do not feel as if you can't write your true opinion about a garment here.  You can write away and I will try very hard not to be offended...however, I'm gonna do and wear exactly what I want regardless...*LOL*  So even though many of you loved the closer fit of my first V1250, it makes me uncomfortable.  Too close...too eyecatching in places I'm trying to move your eyes away totally outside my comfort zone. 

And yes, the second version does have a lot more room in the abdomen and seat area, but after wearing it today, it was way more comfortable to wear and move in at work.  Especially since I have one of those jobs were I can be sitting in a meeting one hour and in the next crawling under a desk to make sure a telephone wire is connected or standing on a step stool taking down pictures in one of our conference rooms.  My clothes can't be for show.  They have to work in all of my job related situations.

Since I have several more patterns that I am determined to make (why oh why I'm asking myself now! *LOL*), I need you to understand that I am soooooo far outside my comfort zone that at times I wonder just where I am.  This is indeed a journey and I will have a story to tell by the end of the summer for sure!  Hopefully, I will end up incorporating some of the new...with some of the make fall garments that are me...but we shall see.

I am determined to work on the B5600 dress a little bit every evening this week. I want be able to reveal it this weekend and move onto the next pattern challenge.

...more later!

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Vogue 1250 Again

I am in the throes of a severe case of Sewing ADD.  There are so many new patterns that I want to sew...with so much fabric inspiration...which I've so thoughtfully provided...that I am finding myself flitting from thing to thing.  Whatever presses hardest against my creative urges, gets worked on I find myself in the position of remaking V1250 while I still have two other projects in various stages of completion.

The first I started a few weeks ago...Butterick 5598.  I've finished all of the pattern alterations and taken the dress apart now that I've figured out how the dress will fit.  So it sits...waiting for me to be inspired to take it up again:

The second garment is Butterick 5600.  This one is closer to being finished.  I have a shell done and the sleeves and tabs have been constructed.  They are just waiting to be added to the dress.

So even though I have these two very detailed and involved projects waiting for me...yesterday afternoon I got the urge to remake Vogue 1250.  Why?  Because I really wanted this dress with side seams instead of that whole wrap around piece that the original pattern has going on.  Also, the original dress has a very snug fit. 

So what do I like most about the dress?  It's the cowl neckline and the sleeves.  What don't I like about the dress?  The very snug fit of the original.  It's why I don't make or wear alot of knit dresses.  Skimming my figure is okay...tightness or really fitted is not me.  I didn't even like this fit when I was's just not me.

Here is my version now...

I used my TNT dress pattern pieces and cut a new front piece by creating my pattern sandwich.  I traced a new version of the DK front piece giving me more space in the abdomen area as well as adding some flare to the hemline.  Both of these changes give me a better fit without altering the silhouette of the dress front.

For the back, I altered my TNT dress pattern so that it would have the curve of the original pattern but not the back seamline.  Both of these pieces were cut on the fold where the original had the top on the fold and the bottom with a center back seam. 

I know sewists are really into swayback adjustments, but I feel a straight line from neckline to hemline is more slimming on my bodacious booty than adding the swayback and emphazising just how much is back there.

I'm much happier with this version.  I will wear both versions but this is the favorite. 

Another shot with the same black cardigan that I used with the original version.  The fabric from this dress is from Vogue Fabrics.  It is a fused knit.  Of course, since it is a simple sew the only notion is a yard of stay tape that was added to the shoulder seams to stabilize them.  Because I omitted the large side darts, I constructed the side seams as I would my regular TNT dress.

I'm heading back into the sewing room to finish up Butterick 5600 now...but there is something else gnawing around the edges of my brain so I know what's up next and sadly it's not Butterick 5598.

...more later!


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